Last post, I started the process of inventorying where my writing time goes, why each type of writing I do is enjoyable/valuable, and how much of my time goes to each type. I’ve found it a useful exercise, because it’s always helpful to know where your time is going, it’s useful to know whether or not something you’re sinking time into is worth the amount you’re sinking into it, and because it’s been a nice chance to reflect on where I want to go with writing and whether or not the activities I participate in are setting me on a path to get there.
Last time, the two buckets I covered were Storium and my novel writing.
This time, we’ll tackle this blog, writing for money, and miscellaneous activities around writing.
Obviously, if you’re here, you know I run a personal blog. I’ve been working at it consistently for several years now, posting twice a month, and use it primarily to discuss my life, faith, writing journey, and things I’m learning, wrestling with, or enjoying along the way.
Why I like it:
- It provides a valuable outlet for self-reflection with deadlines that ensure I am reflecting on a regular basis.
- Because I have to write my thoughts out in a way that is comprehensible both to myself and others, it forces me to take the time to think through thoughts, ideas, or philosophies that might not otherwise be fully realized in the scattershot of my other thinking. Because I must consistently provide output, it often makes me confront or more fully consider ideas or musings that I might otherwise ignore or avoid.
Why it has value:
- Having to provide content on a regular basis ensures that I am regularly checking in with myself, my writing, my thoughts, feelings, and/or faith. It ensures consistent forward progress, or at the very least analysis.
- It ensures that I am writing on a regular basis, even if other avenues of writing are running dry/feeling uninspired.
- It is an easy way for family or friends to keep up on where I am emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually, or to know how I am learning/growing.
Depending on the post, it can take me anywhere from 1-4 hours to write a new blog post, not including supplemental time to setup any promotional tweets/posts on social media (which doesn’t take long). As I only do this twice a month, I would say that it takes about 10-20% of my writing time. As this blog is primarily for the benefit of myself and a few close others, this seems about right. There are times when I question it’s continued usefulness, but then when I think of letting it go, I wonder if I would process those emotions/thoughts as well if I didn’t post them here, or if I would lose momentum from not having deadlines, and get less certain of that decision. If anyone has thoughts about that (or thoughts on the value of this blog in general), feel free to let me know!
Writing for money
So, this category is actually fairly new to me (yay!) so data on it is a little sparse. But, suffice to say, I am now doing some freelance blogging. I am currently on a schedule of about one post every three weeks, and plan on putting any of the money I make from that into a “writing fund,” the hope being that in future I might be able to use it to pay for things like promotions, booth fees, editors, conferences, beta readers, etc.
Why I like it:
- After 10+ years of creative writing, it’s really, really nice to be able to say I am a paid writer. And even though I won’t be spending this money on “fun” things like books or anime, the fact that I’ll be able to save for better quality things on my writing wish list (better editors, maybe cover artists, someone to do social media, etc.) is awesome!
- The people I’m writing for are great and it’s on a topic I really enjoy, so it’s fun to get to know them and the subject more and to grow by writing about it.
- Getting experience as a paid writer now can open up future doors. It also feels nice to feel more like a “professional.”
Why it has value:
- Being an author is expensive, no matter how you publish, so having a nest egg to work towards that is amazing.
- Having some professional writing chops in general has value, both in my regular day job career and as a writer.
- I am learning a lot about the subject.
- This gives me great experience for future freelancing.
So, with the other writing on my plate, this is not something I can dedicate a ton of time to, and given that I need to rely a little on my “editor” both for ideas and approval, this seems okay. I would say about 10% of my time goes here, with opportunity for it to increase if I so choose (thankfully they have been gracious enough for me to set my own schedule). For now, I think I’ll probably leave it at around here, maybe going up to 15-20% max if they need something sooner/when I want a little extra cash flow. If anyone–especially professional creatives–have thoughts on this/how much time they spend on side gigs (of if they even categorize things like this separately than their usual work), please feel free to let me know!
So as I was looking this all over, I realized that I should probably have another bucket for all of the things related to writing that aren’t really a part of these main buckets. Since they are much smaller, I’ll try summing them up in much smaller chunks.
This one has been on my list for many years now. With a core group of four (give or take), I typically spend several hours preparing what I’m going to share (usually my current writing project, though sometimes I have to detour if I’m wrestling through a specific plot point or run out of time) and a few hours reading through and commenting on the others’ work, plus the 3ish hour long meeting where we compare and discuss. From this perspective, not including the work I would normally spend writing the novel pieces I submit, this takes up about 15-20% of my writing time.
As you may know from a previous post, I’m currently on a break from social media, but when I am on it, most of the time I spend related to it goes into scheduling posts for either this blog, events I’ve been attending, or “shelfies,” which are pictures I take of myself with the books I’m reading as a way to promote and support other authors. Since none of that takes much time and I’m not inundated with communications from fans at any given time, I’d say I’d normally spend about 2-5% of my writing time on those tasks, which of course is now currently at 0% with the break.
This category would go mostly towards conferences or classes. But since I don’t go to them very often, despite the fact they do take a lot of time, I’m not going to bother including them here.
So that’s a general summary of most of the writing tasks I do and the amount of time each one of them takes. Next time, we’ll take a look at this summary and break down the numbers!
So, how about you? Have you ever done this kind of analysis? Was it helpful? What strategies have you found to help keep you focused and efficient when tackling your personal projects? What stumbling blocks have you met on the way? Let me know in the comments below, and if you want more posts about my writing, personal journey, or all things nerdy, please feel free to follow me here or on social media using the links in the sidebar or below (keeping in mind I’m currently on a social media break, so I may not respond to posts right away). Thanks for reading!